Monday, December 17, 2012

U.K. scraps plan for Internet porn filtering by default after poll results show public disdain

The U.K. announced on Saturday that a plan to block Internet porn by default has been rejected. The reason given for rejecting the move: the plan was not widely supported by the public.

You won't believe it's not broadband.
The proposal was backed by Conservative MP Claire Perry. If the plan had been executed, U.K. citizens would have had to "opt in" to viewing pornographic material, as opposed to perhaps "opting out" of it, which might have been a more favorable proposal.

A survey of 3,500 respondents show the idea wasn't very popular. Only 35 percent of parents favored automatic blocking Internet porn. Another 15 percent were OK with "some filtering," with an option to block more material. About 13 percent said they favored "a system where you are automatically asked some questions about what you want your children to be able to access".

The survey included members of the public, academics, charities and communication firms.

About 70 percent of the 78 voluntary and community sector organizations that responded to the poll answered "yes" to an automatic block. However, a strong majority of respondents from all other groups answered "no."

Meanwhile, as you might expect, a large majority of the 77 information and communication businesses asked were against all forms of filtering. That being said, they gave the most support (about 18 percent) to the third approach note above, in which parents are asked -- and decide -- what they want their children to access on the internet.

In fact, the four largest U.K. ISPs, Sky, BT, TalkTalk and Virgin, have already agreed to a less-aggressive "opt-out" content filtering program. New customers will be asked whether they wish to block explicit material during the signup process. However, they wouldn't go through the process with existing customers, something the report issued after the survey recommended.

While disappointed in the decision Perry said "Clearly that [the proposal for automatic filtering] was not the preferred choice of the 3,500 people who responded to the consultation and we have to base policy on what's been received not what we want."

It's an interesting statement, in that the U.K. government appears to be following the will of the public. That is sharply contrasted by politics in the U.S., where a recent poll showed that 60 percent of respondents were in favor of raising taxes on incomes above $250,000, while 65 percent want taxes raised on "large corporations." Meanwhile, 58 percent of respondents also said that they believed these tax increases wouldn't harm the economy.

Despite this, the U.S. House of Representatives has thus far resisted such tax increases, to the point that they are willing to let taxes go up on those below $250,000 as well, with the expiration of the Bush tax cuts.



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